Vivian Klinck: An Artist's Journey to Kensington Court

Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan in the early 1940s, Vivian Klinck’s journey to becoming a respected artist wasn’t straightforward. Her relationship with her craft started from a young age and she graduated from Michigan State University with a minor in art, but it took a divine moment of realization in her 40s for the talented American-Canadian painter to truly embrace her calling.

Following her passion after “an epiphany”
"I could always sort of draw when I was young,” said Vivian. “But when I had an epiphany, I looked up and asked the powers that be 'just let me learn' and I haven’t been disappointed since,” added Klinck from the comfort of her new home at Kensington Court.
This transformative moment sparked a late but very fruitful and prolific career in art, marking a significant departure from her previous life. "Before my career as an artist," Vivian recalled, "I was a content housewife. I spent that part of my life trying not to work, and I had a wonderful husband who was earning enough to allow me to do that."

The Artist's Flourishing Career
When some of her family moved to Arizona, Vivian bought a place there. For many years, she would escape the cold Canadian winter to visit her mother and sister in the small town of Wickenburg in the southwestern US state. She developed a deep love for Wickenburg’s remote desert landscapes, producing a significant amount of work there, surrounded by her family and fellow artists. Art, for Vivian, was everything, and it didn't take long for her work to gain attention. "I love to draw the desert, I did a lot of my work there. I have over 1,250 paintings, all numbered and in a journal. I write down if they are sold, given away, or destroyed. That’s how I operate with my work."

Klinck, 83, is also a member of an art group, Art Therapy, in Amherstburg, near Windsor where they work out of the Gibson Gallery. Art, it seems, is everything to Vivian, and her impressive portfolio has graced galleries such as Ontario’s Art at the River and Plumtree on the outskirts of Detroit. She's also been honoured at Gold Rush Days and her pieces have become a mainstay at Arizona art exhibitions. Vivian9
She may also soon be the subject of a documentary by Richard Peddle, owner of Rivertown Bookstore in Amherstburg (where Vivian’s artwork pictured left is displayed) and the former President and CEO of Maple Leaf Entertainment. Watch this space. 

The Transition to Kensington Court
The stillness at home following her husband David’s passing led Vivian to seek a change. The silence was too much for her, and she began considering retirement living. "The household was so quiet, it was irritating, I didn’t like it but I kept trudging on for another couple of years. I told my friends that I wanted to move into retirement living and they thought I was out of mind. But I thought it was the right move for me’."

Wanting a social connection and to be free of responsibilities, Vivian began looking at retirement residences. "This place (Kensington Court) is a godsend. So I made a decision, I said: ‘I’m not going to live my life like this in the quiet house. I really want to be pampered’."

Embracing new routines and friendships
Vivian's new life at Kensington Court is structured around a fulfilling routine that includes exercise, meals, and art. She begins her day on the cross-trainer before breakfast. "I get up early and do three 20-minute sessions on the cross-trainer in the mornings and before our meals."

Despite only arriving at Kensington Court 4 weeks ago, Vivian has already forged valuable friendships. "There are some crabby people, but there are crabby people everywhere,” she said with a knowing smile. “So I just stick to the people who want to talk to me."

 “The food is so good”
Not a big fan of cooking due to an eyesight impairment, Vivian loves the convenience and the taste of the Kensington Court menu. She is very fond of the “Chef’s Salad” and had to give up desserts to avoid gaining weight because, according to her, they were too tasty. "I was worried I was going to gain weight here because the food is so good. So I gave up the desserts and ate lots of Chef’s salads and now I’m down two pounds!”

Finding the best retirement home for her
Since cooking was a task she found increasingly difficult due to her declining eyesight, Vivian knew it was time to leave her quiet townhouse. “I had a hard time cooking. I’m not a great cook anyway and with my eyesight when I chopped up things I’d have scars on my fingers. So coming here was a good fit.”

“I looked at several (retirement) homes before Kensington but I got a cold feeling from them. However, in this place, everyone knows your name. It just had this comfortable feeling to it.”
Vivian finds it amusing that she can actually see her townhouse from her new suite at Kensington Court.

Vivian8“I gave it to my daughter and her family and they moved in. I can sit out on my patio balcony and spy on my kids,” she laughed. Her new lofty, third-storey apartment, she mused, is quite fitting for the artist who painted a work called "Where the Birds Fly". Coincidentally, this impressive artwork (right) now sits proudly in the Kensington Court lobby, bathed in sunlight for all to admire.

A pleasant surprise 
The most unexpected outcome of Vivian’s move to Kensington was a welcome surge in her artistic productivity. “I quickly got back into my old (artistic) ways. When I paint by myself it’s no good. I think it has something to do with the energy of having people around me. This is what I get here. The way I was in Wickenburg, Arizona. When I had people around me in my art club. It’s a spiritual thing. Being here spurs me on and inspires me.”

“You can’t go anywhere else but here”
Vivian's move to Kensington Court hasn't just improved her own life; it's given her valuable insights to share with others who are unsure how to spend their retirement. “I’ve already talked to my friends about this. You can’t go anywhere else but here. I have a couple of girlfriends who are thinking of moving into retirement living."

Vivian’s story is a testament to the potential benefits of retirement living. Her journey is one of transition, it’s a rediscovery of a true passion during an exciting new phase of her life within a social and joyful community.

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